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The Cubs’ Single-A team won a game after two days and 19 innings

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According to the Midwest League curfew rule, an inning cannot begin after 12:50 AM, regardless of the score. That stipulation came back to bite the Cubs’ Single-A affiliate on Friday night, when the South Bend Cubs were forced to table their 6-6 tie against the Mariners’ Clinton LumberKings after 18 innings. The team rescheduled the remainder of their contest for 5:30 PM ET on Saturday, when the Cubs prevailed after their 19th and final inning to win 7-6 over a two-day period.

Clinton right-hander Ljay Newsome stumbled out of the gate, allowing six runs on seven hits and striking out just four of 24 batters in five innings. The Cubs’ big moment came in the fourth inning, when Luis Ayala collected a two-run double and Yeiler Peguero capitalized on a fielding error by the first baseman, bringing another two runs home to score for a four-run inning. The LumberKings retaliated in the eighth with a two-run double and home run of their own, collecting the tying runs on Luis Liberato’s third homer of the season.

For the next ten innings, however, bats on both sides were silent. The clubs cycled through a cumulative 12 pitchers, frustrating the attempts of 17 stranded baserunners before suspending the game after the 18th inning. The 19th inning was pushed back to Saturday afternoon, when right-handed reliever Manuel Rondon set down three consecutive outs to get the ball rolling again. The LumberKings weren’t so lucky. Clinton right-hander Jack Anderson allowed a leadoff single to Yeiler Peguero, then a stolen base, then intentionally walked Kevonte Mitchell. Jhonny Pereda hit into a fielder’s choice, bringing Peguero home to score the winning run and bring a merciful end to the 19-inning marathon.

The kicker? The Cubs’ celebration was short-lived — one hour and 19 minutes, to be precise. The team’s next match began at 7:05 PM ET.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.